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In Search of Knowledge


Once back home, the veteran Allworth continued with his college education at Oregon State College.

A 1947 article in the local paper entitled 73 OSC Students Hit Straight ‘A’ Average mentioned 51 of them being veterans, including Edward Allworth. [8] Early on, his undergraduate academic accomplishments were an indication of a path in search of knowledge.


By 1948, he completed his undergraduate degree with a B.S. in “secretarial science,” equivalent to a Business Administration degree. In 1951, he enrolled in the University of Chicago to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Humanities. According to the University Registrar, Professor Allworth wrote a paper entitled: “The Tatars in Russian Literature”, and received his A.M. (artium magister) on June 12, 1953. [9] 

I wonder if his chance encounter with the Bashkir Tatar Prisoner of War influenced his intellectual curiosity to write this paper? 


Soon after completing his Master’s degree, Allworth enrolled as a full-time student in Columbia University’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. He worked with Professor Ernest J. Simmons [10] who played a major role in developing Russian area studies in the United States. During

this time, he also worked part-time at the Ford Foundation, which gave him an opportunity to travel overseas in pursuit of his academic research. “Allworth’s first experience in academic traveling came in 1956, when he went to Turkey to do research under a Ford Foundation grant." [11] A January 12, 1956 document issued by the Turkish Educational Attaché informs us of his intention to spend eight months in Turkey. Edward Allworth’s goals were to improve his Turkish and to get acquainted with the country and its people while also researching Uzbek literature.


By March 1956, the young researcher was attending lectures at the Istanbul University, Faculty of Literature, Department of Turkology. His 1956 and subsequent trips to Turkey refined his Turkish language skills, which would later be useful in gathering primary historical sources for his scholarly publications. Due to his proficient Turkish language skills, Professor Allworth corresponded with many prominent Central Asian figures such as the scholar Baymirza Hayit, Osman Kocaoglu, the President of the Bukhara People’s Republic, and interviewed many Turkistanian students such as Ahmet Can Okay and Ahmet Naim Öktem [12] who were sent by the Bukhara People’s Republic to study abroad in Germany in 1922.

Between 1957 and 1958, Professor Allworth became an instructor of Russian and humanities at Reed College in Portland, OR. [13] While he was associated with Reed College, he still carried out his graduate research work and visited the Soviet Union for the first time on December 14, 1957, sponsored by a Ford Foundation grant. The Soviet Consul in Washington D.C. granted him a one-time 30-day entry visa, allowing him to only visit the cities of Kiev, Leningrad, Moscow, Alma-Ata, Tashkent, and Samarkand. The young researcher first set foot in the Soviet Union via the city of Vyborg, on the Soviet-Finnish border. Interestingly, Vyborg was the town where Lenin lived between the February and October Revolutions of 1917 preparing for the Bolshevik Revolution. Allworth’s academic travels in the U.S.S.R gave him first-hand knowledge and research material for his Ph.D. dissertation. 


In 1959, Professor Allworth received his Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. His thesis was The Soviet Russian Impact on Uzbek Literary Activity. A part of the abstract from the thesis reads as follows:


“Although some Uzbek Communists supported Russian aims in Soviet Central Asia, many opposed the Russians by siding with prominent Uzbek writers and other nationally-minded intellectuals who took a leading role in the battle for independence. In its literary aspects this was not only a fight for national identity, but, in broader terms, also a campaign for individuality against collectivity, for creative freedom instead of prescription. It was carried on more or less openly in Uzbek literary and educational institutions until 1937-38, when the Russians, eliminating most of the outstanding writers from Uzbek literature through the violence of the purges, brought about an abrupt change in the literary activity. Organized Uzbek resistance to Russian demands collapsed and was replaced by a cautious search for the limits permitted to minority literatures in the USSR during subsequent decades.”


After receiving his Ph.D., from January 1960 to September 1961, the upcoming scholar took a position as the assistant director for the Émigré Relations division at the American Committee for Liberation in Munich, West Germany. Through the American Committee, “Allworth was able to keep abreast of the latest cultural developments and political trends in the Soviet Asian republics – the area of his professional interest.” [14] During this time in West Germany, he fostered important relations with members of the Central Asian immigrant community, many of whom formed the foundation of Radio Free Europe’s Uzbek, Kazakh and Turkmen radio services. A few months later in October 1961, at the age of 40, Edward Allworth became an assistant professor in Turko-Soviet studies in the Department of Middle East Languages and Cultures at Columbia University.

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